Gladiator Law Marketing for Attorneys
Gladiator Law Marketing for Attorneys

LAWYER MARKETING ARTICLES

How to Create a Law Firm Marketing Plan and Manage the Budget

March 21, 2024   |   Written by Rachel Reynolds
Law Firm Digital Marketing Plan

There’s an old adage that says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there.” This is certainly true of growing your law firm. That’s why writing a strategic, actionable, and measurable law firm marketing plan is so important. It’s a roadmap that tells you how to get from “here” to “there” and increase profits along the way.

You wouldn’t take a family vacation without a GPS, smartphone, or folded map in your glove compartment. Similarly, attorneys need a roadmap guiding their firm toward growth and profitability. Law firms can’t afford to rely on good luck to determine their financial success. A strategic law firm marketing plan can ensure that you reach your goals.

A well-crafted attorney marketing plan can: Save money; Save time; Increase online traffic, phone calls, and referrals; Convert leads into clients; Build your brand; Outperform the competition; Attract new talent.

Law Firm Digital Marketing Strategy

Law firm marketing strategies and budgets should be customized to achieve desired outcomes.

Before striking out in every direction, think about the marketing elements you can reasonably afford, given your budget. If you’re wondering how to create a law firm marketing plan and manage the budget, read on. To begin, focus on these essential elements when crafting your law firm digital marketing strategy.

Lawyer Marketing Budget & Planning

1. Budget & Projected ROI

Whether your law firm has a large marketing budget or a relatively modest one, there are things you can do to get the word out to potential clients about your legal services. Whether it’s a top-notch website, eye-catching advertising, or word-of-mouth buzz, you can take proactive steps to generate leads and convert these leads into clients. Create a realistic budget, and then make sure you get the largest bang for every dollar. Budgeting can be underpinned with planning analytics. Data sources can include flat files – such as Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and budget forecasting documents – as well as information generated via platforms like client relationship management (CRM) and client intake software.

According to an American Bar Association 2023 study, a significant percentage of law firms hired outside agencies to manage the following marketing efforts:

  • Website design (42%)
  • SEO (28%)
  • Social media (27%)
  • Print marketing (9%)
  • Online leads (9%)
  • AdWords/PPC (8%)
  • Directory listings (6%).

As you can see, by far, the top three marketing tasks that law firms outsourced to professionals include website design, SEO, and social media. Outside consultants and agencies also created content for 24% of law firm respondents in the ABA study.

Measuring ROI for law firms will help you discover key insights for crafting a successful, cost-efficient marketing strategy.

2. Measurements

Measuring the results of your marketing efforts is an essential way to determine the best place to spend your finite marketing dollars. It will help you see what’s working and what isn’t. Some useful tools to measure your metrics include Google Analytics, which will show you how many people visit and view your website. Social media management systems also give you information about user engagement. Software like Salesforce provides a thrifty way to measure results, as do CRM systems.

According to American Judicial System (ajs.org), there are several key methods for measuring marketing ROI in the legal sector. These include:

  1. Website Analytics: As stated earlier, Google Analytics provides data on website traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates.
  2. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Assessing the long-term value of a client against the cost of acquisition (Customer Lifetime Value) offers insights into the profitability of marketing efforts over time.
  3. Social Media Engagement Metrics: Analysis of likes, shares, comments, and follower growth on social media platforms can indicate the level of engagement and reach of social media marketing.
  4. Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA): This involves calculating the cost incurred to acquire a new client through a specific marketing channel.
  5. Client Feedback and Surveys: Direct feedback from clients can reveal the impact of marketing strategies on client acquisition and retention.
  6. Comparative Analysis: Comparing marketing performance metrics year-over-year or against industry benchmarks provides a context for evaluating the effectiveness of current strategies.
  7. Lead Generation Tracking: By monitoring the source of leads, firms can determine which marketing channels are most effective at attracting potential clients.

Effective ROI analysis requires a combination of the above approaches, because relying on a single metric can skew a comprehensive view of your marketing performance.

According to a 2023 ABA study, only about 20% of law firms receive regular reports/data about their marketing performance. That means a whopping 80% of law firms do not measure the performance of their marketing efforts.

3. Value proposition and differentiators

The best way to market yourself as an attorney is to decide what makes you different from the competition and articulate the value you provide. Do you provide highly specialized legal services? Are your legal fees lower than other attorneys’ fees? Are you always accessible by phone and text? What is it you offer that few others do? This is key to marketing your services.

4. 12-month marketing calendar

Creating a marketing calendar ensures that you’ll get things done but won’t get overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once. By listing one or two items to complete each month – whether it’s writing a blog, attending a networking event, or updating your attorney bio – you can make progress in your law firm marketing plan.

5. Elevator pitch

It’s important that you’re able to concisely talk about your services and value in a quick 30-second statement. This is always handy when you make a presentation before a local business group or meet someone for the first time. It’s also a way to get word-of-mouth referrals.

6. Targeted prospect list

Building a list of potential clients and attorneys who make referrals to you is an important marketing tool. Whether you send out eblasts, a newsletter, or nudges to visit your website, a targeted prospect list keeps your name in front of potential clients and helps build your brand by creating repeat impressions.

7. Client intake tracking system

Whether you use Lead Docket or another law firm tracking software, technology can help you track phone calls, client leads, and conversion rates. You can streamline your process and make sure no potential client gets lost by making a modest investment in a client intake tracking system.

8. S.M.A.R.T. Goals

There’s a little mnemonic device you can use when setting law firm goals for growth. Think S.M.A.R.T. :

  • S = Specific. The more specific the goal, the easier it is to achieve and be accountable for.
  • M = Measurable. Once again, be sure to set goals that are quantifiable and can be measured.
  • A = Attainable. Don’t put yourself behind the eight ball. Set goals that are realistic.
  • R = Relevant. A goal to get your office painted, while nice, is not going to affect firm growth.
  • T = Time-bound. Always attach a date or specific amount of time to accomplish each goal.

If you keep these S.M.A.R.T. elements in mind when writing down your goals in an attorney marketing plan, it should be easy to keep track over time of the efforts you identified as priorities and how close you are to achieving them. For a more comprehensive explanation of S.M.A.R.T. goals, read this piece by MindTools.

What to Know Before Creating a Law Firm Marketing Strategy

There are several powerful tools to use when it comes to building your law firm marketing strategy. Since Google is the heavy hitter when it comes to your law firm’s visibility, you should start with leveraging online tools. Your outcomes will be a lot more successful if you focus on these key elements:

Web Marketing Planning

Website

There’s just no substitute for an attractive, well-written and user-friendly website. Your law firm website design is one of your most powerful marketing tools. It should be professionally optimized with SEO techniques to ensure it ranks well in user queries on Google. It should also include a mobile-friendly design, because more and more searchers will find your website on a smartphone or tablet rather than just a computer. So, be sure to check your law firm website on your smartphone and make sure it loads and navigates easily without any friction. Other website essentials include creating client-centered content that anticipates potential clients’ questions and then answers them. It’s also important to choose the right URL. And be sure your website includes live chat. According to Software Advice, 55% of U.S. consumers like using live chat to get answers to questions on business websites. Software Advice goes on to say:

“Online live chat is proving to be one of the best service channels for meeting customers’ needs throughout their journey, from first contact through post-sale support … And unlike other channels such as email, live chat provides instant support, with minimal customer effort required.”

Social Media Marketing

Social media is a vast and relatively inexpensive frontier for marketing your legal services. By creating law firm LinkedIn and Facebook pages or communicating with potential clients via X (formerly Twitter), you can seize the opportunity to include social media in your attorney marketing plan. Read more at “How To Build Your Twitter Tribe,” by Leon Widrich in Social Media Examiner, and “Five Ways to Use Twitter for Marketing That You Might Not Know About,” by Starr Hall in Entrepreneur magazine.

In addition to creating social media content, it’s also important to understand timing. An article by Andrew Phelps titled “Tweet late, email early, and don’t forget about Saturday: Using data to develop a social media strategy” describes the benefits of choosing when to distribute electronic content. It appeared in NiemanLab, content produced by the Neiman Foundation. “The Science of Timing: When to Do Everything” by Dan Zarrella, a social media scientist, is also a great resource about the best times to post on social media, blog and distribute your marketing message.

According to an ABA 2023 study, LinkedIn remains the leading social media platform for lawyers. Roughly 83% of law firms with social media strategies have a presence on LinkedIn, while Facebook is second, with 57% of law firms maintaining a Facebook page. X (formerly Twitter) lags far behind, with only 33% of law firms marketing themselves on that platform.

Blog Posts

Blogging is a way to keep content fresh on your law firm website, and it’s also a way to demonstrate your expertise and authority. Writing blogs about topical, informative legal issues is useful to potential clients and can prompt a phone call to your office. If you don’t have time to write your own blogs, a marketing professional can do it for you.

Roughly 29% of law firms report that clients have retained their firm either directly or via referral from their blog, including 49% of solo practitioners. This means that blogging is an effective, low-cost method of marketing for law firms.

Legal Directories

Leveraging legal directories is an easy way to beef up your authority and visibility. Avvo, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell and other directories are worth the time it takes to fill out your listing. Be sure to create a LinkedIn profile, too.

Attorney Bios

Spending an hour or two writing a strong attorney bio is worth its weight in gold. Research shows that attorney bios are one of the first places potential clients look when assessing which lawyer to call. Listing your education, bar admissions, community involvement and awards are key, as is a lively and approachable narrative about what makes you better than the competition.

Backlinks and SEO Optimization

There’s a whole science behind creating backlinks to your web pages and optimizing online content. These technical efforts work wonders in getting your website to rank higher in Google search results. An SEO professional can help you optimize your site.

PPC

Pay-per-click advertising might be a great way to get the word out about your law firm. To learn more about how to decide if PPC is right for your law firm, Search Engine Journal has informative data about PPC best practices.

Email Marketing

E-Blasts are a cost-effective way of staying in front of current and potential clients with newsy, educational legal topics. They can be distributed bi-weekly, monthly, or as often as you like. Email marketing is also a way to keep your brand front and center in the minds of prospective clients and legal colleagues.

Google Business Profile

Every law firm marketing plan should take advantage of Google Business Profile. It’s a FREE profile offered by Google that will highlight your law firm’s location, legal services, and contact information. It takes just 15 minutes or less to create your GBP listing, so make this a priority!

Local Service Ads for Lawyers

Local Service Ads (LSAs) are a hot topic right now, and this might be an important element of your law firm marketing plan. LSAs are a lead-generation tool that connects prospective clients directly to you through call, text, or your firm’s intake software. The tool is designed to match potential customers with local firms and businesses. Whether you’re interested in LSAs for personal injury attorneys or LSAs for criminal defense lawyers, this marketing tool can be effective if your firm has the budget for it.

Client Testimonials

Always look for opportunities to ask for testimonials from happy clients. Consumers listen to other consumers when it comes to choosing products and services. Brief testimonials on your website or flier speak to your law firm’s value, experience, and success. Testimonials should always be part of your attorney marketing plan. Marketing has moved away from “here’s a list of what you get” toward an emotional “let me tell you why I’m so satisfied,” says Maryland-based marketing firm Strategic Factory.

Marketing Collateral

Newsletters, brochures, business cards and fliers may be old school, but they’re still very effective, especially if you do mass mailings or hand them out at conferences or speaking engagements. Create marketing collateral that is informative, well-designed, and professional, and be sure to consistently highlight your brand.

Advertising on Radio, TV and Billboards

For those law firms with larger budgets, radio, television, and billboard advertising is a way to create a larger-than-life image. While more costly, this kind of advertising can produce huge results and widespread brand awareness.

Community Involvement

Never overlook the power of being involved in your local community. Whether sponsoring a youth Little League team, a charity 5K or a Chamber of Commerce breakfast, giving back to your local community is a powerful way of connecting with civic leaders and saying “thank you” to the local residents who may become your clients.

A 2023 ABA study shows that 35% of law firms market themselves by sponsoring or attending events.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking engagements, whether at the local Rotary Club or at a national legal conference, are a free way to create PR for your law firm. Sometimes you even get paid. Speaking publicly on legal topics also demonstrates your authority and skill.

Networking and Referrals

For most small and mid-size law firms, referrals are the life blood of new client growth. It’s so much easier to convert a new client who has been referred to you by a fellow lawyer or business professional than it is to make cold calls or try to write persuasive advertising copy that prompts a potential client to call your firm. This is why networking is so important. When you get out there and meet people, attend events, and expand your ever-widening network of acquaintances, you’re much more likely to receive referrals. While networking can feel like time away from getting real legal work done, it isn’t. Firm leadership has to remember to work ON the business as well as IN the business. That’s how growth and profitability happen. You’ve spent an entire career meeting other lawyers, judges, and professionals – groom those contacts to establish an ongoing referral pipeline. If attending conferences appeals to you, we have put together a list of 2024 legal marketing conferences.

Boards & Professional Memberships

Sitting on local boards at non-profits and schools, as well as serving on committees with professional organizations, is a way to spread word-of-mouth goodwill. It elevates your standing in the community and provides a ready-made way to network.

Publicity

Never underestimate the value of good press. If you feel comfortable with publicity, get to know local reporters at newspapers and TV stations and offer yourself as a subject-matter expert for future legal stories. You can also write articles for industry publications or legal journals. Consider inviting co-authors to join you.

Keep These Things in Mind

There’s a lot to think about when creating and measuring a law firm marketing strategy. Keep the following top of mind:

Always Build Your Brand

It’s important to keep your brand at the center of your attorney marketing plan. Identify your key differentiators and reinforce those qualities in all your marketing efforts. To learn more about brands and branding, Inc. magazine has penned an excellent article about brands and brand names.

Educate, Don’t Just Market

When it comes to legal marketing, try to educate rather than simply sell. People looking for a lawyer are often bewildered or stressed and have a problem that needs to be solved. You’re the voice of authority and calm. Create marketing content that informs, explains, and reassures.

E.A.T.

Your personal Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E.A.T.) can set you apart from the competition when attracting potential clients. People in need of legal services look to you as the knowledgeable and skillful person they need to trust. E.A.T. – an insider SEO term – simply means that you reinforce your authority and trustworthiness online and in all your marketing materials.

Understand Google’s Role in Your Law Firm’s Online Success

You don’t have to become a technology expert to create a law firm marketing plan and budget, but it does help to know some basics about Google’s algorithm and how it affects your law firm’s visibility. We’ve put together a quick primer on Google’s algorithm for your convenience. How Google chooses which law firm websites to rank is part mystery, part algorithm science, and part SEO insight.

Voice Search Is on the Rise

Voice search is important because more and more people speak into their smart devices rather than peck with fingers on keyboards. Devices like smartphones, voice-activated smart speakers and in-vehicle voice connectivity are ubiquitous these days. Because so many people are speaking their Google searches now, it’s more important than ever to create online content that speaks in a natural language and with SEO that is optimized for voice.

Assess the Competition

Know who your competition is and figure out why you’re better. Spend some time looking at the websites of the law firms you compete with. Find ways to articulate how you offer greater value and produce better results. If a competing firm dominates a particular practice area, it may be worthwhile to concentrate your marketing efforts on a different niche of legal services that you provide.

Continue to Learn About Legal Marketing Trends

Attending legal marketing conferences and academic seminars periodically is a way to stay abreast of legal marketing trends so you can continue to update your law firm marketing plan. It’s also a place to meet other attorneys and find out what they do to spread the word about their law firms.

Gladiator Law Marketing Can Be Your Strategic Partner

An effective attorney marketing plan will contemplate what actions you need to take, who will do them, when they’ll be done, and how you’ll measure the success (or lack thereof) of the marketing activities you pursue. That way, you will be able to decide where — and where not — to put your money. This will maximize your return on investment. With some efficient processes, benchmarking, technology, training and focus, law firms can create a concise and affordable attorney marketing plan that jettisons waste and emphasizes revenue-generating activities.

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ABOUT GLADIATOR LAW MARKETING

An effective plan takes the guesswork out of ROI and provides signposts directing you toward growth and increased revenues. “One size doesn’t fit all” with marketing plans. A generalized marketing template with drop-down lists and pre-populated content is likely not going to get your law firm where you want to go. The best plans are customized to an individual firm’s needs and take into account practice areas, size of staff, budget and future goals. A marketing plan doesn’t have to be big to be effective – in fact, the more concise the better.

Are you ready to have a conversation about how to successfully market and grow your law firm? Gladiator Law Marketing has many happy clients who sing our praises. We would be glad to offer you a free consultation about how to take your firm to the next level. Call us at 1-859-203-4572.

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